Sling TV Accelerates Pace of Innovation in 2023 with User Profiles

Sling TV is aiming to level the playing field with rivals via the launch of user profiles & more changes in 2023. Last week, they quietly rolled out their new feature on Android TV & Fire TV devices, with support for other platforms coming soon.

In the last few months, Sling has added discovery+ to its growing portfolio of over 50 subscription services. Additionally, Sports Scores are now available on Roku, Fire TV and Android TV devices.

Sports Scores has been making it easier than ever to keep up with NFL, college football, NBA, NHL and MLB games while watching live TV or on-demand programming since last year. Meanwhile Sling TV’s subscription lineup of nearly 50 services has been available since August 2020.

Image by Sling TV

The rollout of user profiles, yet to be officially announced, combined with other changes suggests that the streamer is attempting to innovate and draw in more subscribers.

Though an early pioneer in live TV streaming since 2015, Sling TV lost ground to newer competitors like Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV. Q3 2021 saw a decline of subscriber numbers, but the company rebounded in November 2022 when it reported 2.41 million users after 214K net additions – still down from 2.6 million subscribers in Q3 2021.

The streaming service needs to expand its library of content and add more features that make it easier for users to find the shows they want.

Sling TV must act quickly; expanding their library, adding useful features, and making it simpler for viewers to locate their preferred programming.

At CES in Las Vegas last week, TechGround chatted with Sling TV’s EVP & President Gary Schanman to discover what the streaming service has planned for the months ahead.

Dish hired industry vet Schanman last year, bringing pay TV experience from Spectrum, Charter and Cablevision (now Altice USA) as well as streaming expertise from his most recent role as Chief Product Officer at Common Sense Networks, where he launched the kid-safe Sensical. His mission now? Revitalize Sling TV.

“We’re ramping up innovation of product and product set over the next few quarters,” Schanman informed TechGround. “At our company, we look for creative, innovative employees who strive to win – so we’re bringing in more people to help us grow.”

The company is exploring how to best meet the needs of different streamers in 2021.

We strive to provide consumers with the content they seek, no matter their needs. From those who are fully subscribed to our paid service and add-on packs, to those who come for a short time and watch free content – we’re here for them all. As Schanman said: “No matter what they want or how long they stay, we’re happy to have them.”

“Free content is essential to fostering a lasting relationship with our customers and providing them value,” he said. “We strive to create an ongoing connection that they find rewarding.”

Schanman declined to comment on Sling TV’s potential free streaming plans.

The streaming industry has shifted focus towards free “live TV” channels (FAST), which offer a grid-like guide more like cable TV than ad-supported video on demand. Services such as Roku’s Live TV Guide and Amazon Freevee, plus Pluto TV, Xumo and Plex have launched FAST channels. For some services, this is to attract customers with free streaming (e.g The Roku Channel) then upsell paid subscriptions.

Sling TV’s free route could cause issues with streaming platforms, like Roku and Amazon, who want to guide users to their own free services.

Sling TV’s advantages include being easy to use and reliable; it hasn’t experienced an outage since the infamous ‘Game of Thrones’ crash. Though some may consider its features “bare bones,” Sling TV prides itself on simplicity.

Sling TV’s edge over rivals lies in its packaging of affordable programming into la carte packages. Subscribers can choose a base subscription (Orange or Blue) and add on extras, as opposed to competitors’ pricier bundles with a larger number of channels.

Schanman stated that, from a live TV perspective, their value and flexibility are unmatched in the market. They are also pro-consumer customers offering more than most cable replacements at times for a lower price.

Sling TV will emphasize its affordability in coming months, said the exec. This is especially relevant given consumers’ increasing financial burden from too many streaming options and live TV plans no longer being cheaper than cable.

“Starting at $40, our flexibility and selection are great values compared to YouTube TV or Hulu TV,” the exec explained. “You can switch packages any time and get six add-on packs for less than either of them. The more options consumers have, the more value our service has – as everyone’s share of wallet is challenged.” Schanman said.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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